The Emperor’s New Clothes

By popular acclaim this is the worst summer's weather ever. David Randall debunks that myth

Share
Related Topics

Drip, drip, drip, drip. Is it the sound of rain falling from drenched trees? The steady rhythm of overspill from blocked guttering? Or precipitation's drum-roll on the canvas of our tents?

No, it's the incessant noise of the weather whingers as their sense of climatic entitlement is foiled by an entirely typical British season. "This," they pout (and the tone of voice implies a hand on hip and the stamp of a tantrumy foot), "is the WORST summer ever!"

No it's not. It's not even close. It's not 1816, truly the "year without a summer", in which the ash and sulphur dioxide from the eruption of Tambora in the East Indies so dimmed the sun and toyed with weather systems that there were worldwide crop failures and food riots in England and Wales. It's not 1931, cloudy and wet from May to the end of September (highlights: a tornado in Birmingham, and Boston, Lincolnshire, getting a quarter of its annual rainfall in one morning). It's not as dull as 1954, short-changed from an average summer's sunshine to the tune of 130 hours, with poor old Plymouth having only one day warmer than 21C. Nor is it as stormy as 1956 (gales in July, snowploughs shifting hailstone drifts four feet deep in Tunbridge Wells). I could go on.

But I won't. What I will do is point out there are silver linings. The volcanic debris scattered around the upper atmosphere from 1816 onwards gave Turner fluorescent sunsets to capture in oils. And poorer summers are invariably followed within a year or two by exceptionally good ones – a sort of climatic clearing of the throat, if you like. This, regrettably not guaranteed or forecastable effect, meant that, after the lowering summers cited above, there were golden ones in 1819, 1933, 1955 and 1959.

So stop whining, and enjoy these months for what they are: a summer in which, as we head past the solstice, fields and hills are as green as you're ever likely to see them; a country in which the dessicated landscapes threatened by the pitiless heats of March have been saved by the soothing waters from summer skies. Above all, as the captain of the Titanic was reputed to have said when confronted with a rather more serious inundation: "Be British!"

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PPC Executive - Manchester City Centre

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This forward-thinking agency wo...

Recruitment Genius: Artwork Design Apprenticeship

£7200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Artwork Design Apprenticeship is avail...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web design and digital age...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Why it won’t be the i wot won it – our promise to you

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A relative of dead Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman reacts after seeing his body at Dhaka Medical College in Dhaka on March 30,  

Atheists are being hacked to death in Bangladesh, and soon there will be none left

Rory Fenton
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor